NW 32: Valuing Diversity in Organizational Education (Research)

NW 32 Organizational Education

Valuing Diversity in Organizational Education (Research)

The network 32 discusses diversity in its multiple meanings and relevance for the learning in, by and between organizations. Referring to the political, economic, socio-cultural and epistemological dimensions of diversity and difference, the network reflects on the theoretical, empirical, methodological, conceptual, and ethical dimensions of diversity and difference for organizational education. In doing so, the network calls for exploring a variety of paradigmatic claims for diversity, taking into account theoretical perspectives like critical performativity studies, postcolonial studies, posthumanist positions as well as classical positions to reflect on the value of diversity as discourse, strategy, dynamic and practice in Organizational Education.

The Call
As Organizational Education is interested in organizational learning in, by and between organizations, diversity in its multiple meanings refers to diverse strategies of organizing difference and differentiations. As diversity is to be discussed in its political, economic, socio-cultural and epistemological dimensions, network 32 seeks to clarify the notions and implications of the term itself.

With Czarniaswka & Sevón (2005) the term diversity can be regarded as a travelling idea in different contexts of organizing. Starting its history as a critical term of anti-racist and gender movements in the United States in the 1960s, later, the topics of disability, age, religion, language, geography (place), and culture have emerged and intersectionality perspectives have highlighted the multiple and continuously dynamic interconnections between emergent dimensions of difference. The global mainstreaming of the term diversity in the 1980s shifted meanings and integrated the term into economic strategies of wealth creation and organizational optimization. Nowadays, diversity has become relevant for any context of institutionalized learning whether schools, higher education or otherwise organizational education and learning programs as well as organizational strategies of leadership and networking. Diversity and difference as generative dynamics are fundamental to processes of organizing (Simpson & den Hond, 2022) and as a herald of ethics, care, and inclusion fundamental to democratic organizational development, learning, and co-creation.

Analytic and empirical approaches to diversity analyze discursive embeddings in organizational strategies, and search how global conditions frame the ways in which “Diversity” is addressed in organizational strategies.

Such contextual analysis may lead to conceptualizing alternative strategies of organizing. Beyond analyzing organizational strategies, diversity becomes a programmatic term for educational normative claims as well as for political strategies of organizing mutual understanding in any setting of difference. From a normative frame, diversity needs to be rediscovered, re-imagined and re-conceptualized.

Furthermore, theoretical and methodological perspectives discuss “Diversity” as an alternative paradigm of organizing. Against universalist concepts and notions of progress (Rosa et al. 2014) of western management, organization theories question the rationalities of calculability, controllability and feasibility of ‘modern’ organizing (Holtbrügge 2001). Post-structural, post-colonial, feminist, critical post-humanist, environmental and commons research streams problematize epistemic violence (Spicer et al. 2009; Braidotti 2019) claiming to diversify theories, methodologies and ethics of and in organizing. Indigenous studies in organizing and management research (Love 2019) call for contextual relevance, appropriate methodologies and situated understandings of organization (Bruton et al 2021).

Debates on an increasing vulnerability of different (eco)systems claim to reflexify multi-species environments (Neimanis et al. 2015) for organizational education research. Diversity then is to be discussed as a relational conceptualization of non-separateness in post-Anthropocene futures (Gibson et al. 2015). Such “radically inclusive” (Lorey 2020) imaginaries of organizing formulate relational perspectives to interdependent subjectivities, other species and the planet Earth. They may lead into a multi-species ethics of “planetary citizenship” (Thompson 2001) and a relational ecology of care (Bärtsch et al. 2017) in organizing. Diversity then may become a methodological as well as ethical perspective for organizational education (research).

Contact Person(s)


Bärtsch, T., Drognitz, D., Eschenmoser, S., Grieder, M., Hanselmann, A., Kamber, A., Rauch, A.-P., Raunig, G., Schreibmüller, P., Schrick, N., Umurungi, M., & Vanecek, J. (Eds.) (2017), Ökologien der Sorge. Wien: transversal texts.

Braidotti, R. (2019). A Theoretical Framework for the Critical Posthumanities. Theory, Culture and Society, 36(6), pp. 31-61.

Bruton, G. D., Shaker A. Z., Ven, A. H. van de, & Hitt, M. A. (2021). Indigenous Theory Uses, Abuses, and Future. Journal of Management Studies, 58(7). onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/joms.12755. Last accessed: 01. November 2021.

Czarniaswka, B. & Sevón, G. (2005): Global ideas. How Ideas, Objects and Practices Travel in a Global Economy. Liber & Copenhagen Business School Press.

Gibson, K., Rose, D. B., & Fincher, R. (Eds.). (2015). Manifesto for Living in the Anthropocene. New York: punctum boo

Holtbrügge, D. (2001). Postmoderne Organisationstheorie und Organisationsgestaltung. Wiesbaden: Deutscher Universitätsverlag.

Lorey, I. (2020). Demokratie im Präsenz. Eine Theorie der politischen Gegenwart. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.

Love, T. R. (2019). Indigenous Organization Studies. Exploring Management, Business and Community. Basingstoke: Palgrave Pivot.

Neimanis, A., Asberg, C., & Hedrén, J. (2015). Four Problems. Four Directions for Environmental Humanities: Toward Critical Posthumanities for the Anthropocene. Ethics and the Environment, 20(1), pp. 67-97.

Rosa, H., Paech, N., Habermann, F., Haug, F., Wittmann, F., & Kirschenmann, L. (2014). Zeitwohlstand – Wie wir anders arbeiten, nachhaltig wirtschaften und besser leben. München: Oekom.

Simpson, B., & den Hond, F. (2022). The contemporary resonances of classical pragmatism for studying organization and organizing. Organization Studies, 43(1), 127-146.

Spicer, A., Alvesson, M., & Kärremann, D. (2009). Critical performativity: The unfinished business of critical management studies. Human Relations, 62(4), pp. 537-560.

Thompson, J. (2001). Planetary Citizenship: The Definition and Defence of an Ideal. In: B. Gleeson, & N. Low (Eds.), Governing for the Environment. Global Issues Series. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

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